Clewiston, FL


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Clewiston is a city in Hendry County, Florida. The population was 6,460 at the 2000 census. According to the U.S Census estimates of 2005, the city had a population of 7,173. Clewiston is home to the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum and the Clewiston Museum.
The area beside Lake Okeechobee was once used as a fishing camp by the Seminole Indians. The first permanent settlement began in 1920, when John O'Brien of Philadelphia and Alonzo Clewis of Tampa purchased a large tract of land to establish a town. They commissioned a town plan and built the Moore Haven & Clewiston Railroad to connect the community to the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad at Moore Haven. Incorporated as a city in 1925, Clewiston would become noted for its sport fishing, particularly of largemouth bass.
Large sugar plantations were established around Lake Okeechobee. By the 1950s and 1960s, the cultivation of citrus, vegetables and cattle were also important to the economy. US Sugar Corporation, however, remained the dominant manufacturer in Clewiston, which became known as "America's Sweetest Town." On June 24, 2008, Governor Charlie Crist announced that the State of Florida had arranged to buy for $1.75 billion the company's 187,000 acres (75,680 hectares), including the refinery in Clewiston. On November 11, the plan was scaled back to $1.34 billion for 181,000 acres (73,250 hectares) of farmland, no longer including the mill, citrus processing facilities and other assets. This would allow the company to remain in business and leave open the possibility of preserving its 1,700 jobs. Over the next seven crop cycles, the farmland would be leased back from the state to US Sugar for $60 million. It would then be converted into reservoirs and water-filtering areas as part of the ongoing restoration of the Everglades ecosystem.